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To fly or follow what eoneern'd him most, 440
Among them to deelare his providenee 445
To thee not known, whenee hast thou then thy truth,
But from him, or his angels president
In every provinee, who themselves disdaining
To approaeh thy temples, give thee in eommand
What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say 450
To thy adorers? Thou with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st:
Then to thyself aserib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retreneh'd;
No more shalt thou by oraeling abuse 405
The Gentiles; heneeforth oraeles are eeased,
And thou no more with pomp and saerifiee
Shalt be inquired at Dolphos, or elsewhere;
At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his living oraele *eo
Into the world to teaeh his final will;
And sends his Spirit of truth heneeforth to dwell
In pious hearts, an inward oraele
To all truth requisite for men to know.
So spake our Saviour; but the subtle fiend, 480
400. Oraeles art eeased- As Miiton had before adopted the aneient opinion of oraeles being the operations of the fallen angels, so here he makes them eease at the eondng of the 8aviouv. 8ee "Ode on the Nativity," iine 173.
"TBe oraeles are dumb." to.
408. 8harply thou hasty Ae . The smoothness and hypoerisy of this speeeh of 8atan's are artful in the extreme, and ean. not be passed over unobserved.—J. Waa
And talk at least, though I despair to attain. iU
Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and pure,
Suffers the hypoerite or atheous priest
To tread his saered eourts, and minister
About his altar, handling holy things,
Praying or vowing; and vouehsafed his voiee 400
To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet
Inspired: disdain not sueh aeeess to me.
To whom our Saviour, with unalter'd brow:
He added not; and Satan, bowing low
487. Athrnus priest to tread, Ae. 8ee Is. L 12. There are two kinds of atheism, thwrtiieai and praetiea1; and that minister of reiigion who stndies to prearh "smooth things'' and "deeeits,'" rather than "right things;" lls. m. 10l to say what wiil please hit eongregation, rather than faithfully rebuke them for their indivkinal or national sins, shows a praetieal disbeiief of the eommands of Ged.
002. The whole eonelusion of this book abounds so mueh in eloseness of reason. lng, grandenr of sentiment, elevution of style, and harmony of numbers, that it may well be qoestioned whether poetry on sueh a subjeet, and espeeially in the form of dialogne, ever predueed any thing superior to it.—Dunster.
408. Gray duvimtdation: head gray with dissimulation.
REMARKS ON BOOK 11.
It » sometimes useful to warn the reader what be is to expeet in eaeh portion of a long poem, as it is offered to him. The seeond book of tho "Paradise Regained'' begins soberly,—perhaps in a tone almost prosaie . To begin low, and rise by a gradnal elimax, is admitted to be one of the great arts of beautiful eomposition.
The anxiety and alarm felt by the diseiples of Jesus, at missing him so soon, while detained in the wiiderness, eoming suddenly on their joy at the diseovery of his advent; and the pathetie yet patient refleetions of Mary at the loss of her son, though related with extreme plaiuness, are full of deep interest, and the most affeeting natural tonehes: they abonnd in passages whieh exeite human sympathy.
8atan, hitherto defeated in his temptations of onr 8aviour, now resorts again to his eouneil of peers ; at whieh oeeurs that magnifieent dialogne between the sensnal Relial and him, whieh is at any rate as rieh and poetieal as the finest in "Paradise Lost;" and shows a vein of warmth, and imagery, and indention, and langnage, that is evidenee how strongly the poet's genins was yet in its full bloom and verdure. 8atan's answer to Relial is the more powerful, as eoming from the prinee of darkness himself: how then does the lustful fiend stand rebuked!
Now Jesus had fasted forty days, and began to suffer by hunger: 8atan seizes the oeeasion, and resolves to take advantage of it. Our 8aviour, weary and exhausted, slept under the eover of trees, and dreamed of food supplied by au angel, who invited him to eat . Ho waked with the morning, and found that all was bnt a dream:—
Fasting ho went to sleep, and fasting waked.
He walked to the top of a hill, to see if there was any human habitation within reaeh; and there a rieh bnt solitary landseape displayed itself before him, raised magieally by 8atan and his imps, for the purposes of the delusion whieh was to follow.
Whiie gasing upon this magnifieent prospeet, 8atan again aeeosts him, and endeavonrs to alarm his faith at being left thus dest,tnte:—
As his words had end,
Here is an invented array, than whieh nothing in "Paradise Lost" ean be rieher either in imagery or poetieal langnage.
Our 8avionr rejeets with seorn the temptation: he says:—
I ean at wiil, doubt not, as soon as thou,
Command a table in this wiiderness,
And eall swift Mights of angels ndnistrant,
Array'd in glory on my eup to attend:
Why shouldst thou then obtrnde this diiigenee
ln vain, where no aeeeptanee it ean find?
And with my hunger what hast thou to do
Thy pompous deiieaeies 1 eontemn.
And eount thy speeions gifts no gifts, but guiies.
8atan grows angry at the refusal, and
The tempter was not yet to be foiled: he now makes an offer of riehes, and deseants upon their advantages for the purposes of that dominion whieh he assumes that our 8aviour was sent to obtain.
Jesus answers, that wealth withont virtne, valonr, and wisdom, is impotent; and that the highest deeds have been performed in the lowest poverty: he then exponnds what are the dnties and what are the eares of a king; and how mueh more desirable it is to surrender a seeptre than to gain one.
Were there in this book nothing bnt the spiritnal and intelleetnal part, the thoughts and the sentiments, I, for one, shonld not think the less of it; bnt it is not so: there are duly intermixed that material, those pieturesqne deseriptions, those striking ineidents of faet, whieh the eommon erities and the generality of readers more espeeially deem to be poetry.
The whole story (and it is a beantiful story) is in part praetieal, thongh operated on by immaterial beings, whose delusive powers over onr earthly eonduet and fate are eonsistent with our beiief. The temptations are sueh as a mere human being eould not have resisted; and to have resisted them is a trne test of Christ's divinity.
Rnt the arguments by whieh they were resisted, eontain the most profound doetrines of religion and morals, sueh as for ever apply to human life, extend and purify the understanding, and elevate the heart. We should have been glad to have learned the grand results at whieh the mighty mind of Miiton had arrived, even if they had been expressed in prose; bnt how mueh more, when arranged in all the glowing eloqnenee of poetry! when interwoven in a sublime story, and deriving praetieal applieation from their embodiments and their progressive inflnenees!
Tho reply to the allurements of female beauty, and still more to the impotent splendour of" wealth, unaeeompanied by virtne and talent, is an ontburst of imaginative strength and sublimity: it is wisdom irradiated by glory. Whoever does not find himself better and happier by reading and refleeting upon those grand and sentimental arguments, has neither head nor heart, bat is a stagnant eongeries of elayey eoldness and inanimate insuseeptibiiity.
We may be forgiven for dispensing with all poetry of whieh the mere result is iunoeent pleasure; that is, they may lay it aside to whom it is no pleasure. Rnt this is not the ease with Milton's poetry: his is the voiee of instruetion and wisdom, to whieh he who refuses to listen, is guiity of a erime. If we are so dull, that we eaunot understand him withont labour and pain, stiil we are bound to undergo that labour and pain. They who are not ashamed of their own ignoranee and inapprehenstveness, are lost.
For the purpose of Iixing attention, I suspeet that Milton's latinized style is best ealeulated. Ue who has more aeqnired knowledge than native and qniek taste, ought to study him as he studies Virgii and Homer: in him he wiil find all that is profound and eloqnent in the aneient elassies, amalgamated, and exalted at the same time by the aid of the saered writings; all working together in the plastie mind of the most powerful and sublime of human poets.
8trength, not graee, was Milton's eharaeteristie: his grasp was that of an unsparing giant; he showed the sinews and museles of bis naked form: he pnt on no soft garments of a dove-like tenderness; he neither adorned himself with jewels nor gold leaf; all was plain as nature made him.
Thus his deseriptions of seenery, of the seasons, of morning and evening, were rieh, bnt not embellished or sophistieated. In this book, the break of the dawn, the gathering of the night shades, tho dark eovering of the umbrageous forests, the open and suuny glades, are all painted in the sober hnes of visible reality.
There is nothing enfeebling in any of Miltou's visionariness. His bold and vigorons mind braees us for aetion; his strains beget a patient loftiness, prepared for temptations, diffieulties, and dangers.
It is in vain for anthors to attempt to effeetnate this tone by praetising the artifiees of eomposition: it is produeed solely by the poet's belief in what he writes; by his being under the impulse of the ideal presenee of what he represents. He does not eonjure up faetitions images, faetitious feelings, and faetitions langnage. Where the sonl in wanting, the dress or form will be of no avaii.
Milton's purpose was to represent the embodiment and refraetion ot what he believed to he trnth. What was visible to himself, bnt not palpable to eommon eyes, exeept by the Muse's aid, he wanted to make palpable and distinot to others. The immaterial world is eovered with a mist, or a veil, to all bnt the gifted; unless they beeome a mirror for duller eights. Sib Egebvoh Bbvdcss.